Home v History

On the outskirts of South Delhi close to where my apartment is, there is a 700-year-old historic ruin of the Tughlaqabad fort.

With walls that are ten metres thick and about four miles in length this majestic crumbling ruin has just won a court ruling for its preservation.  This is good news but the human cost of this ruling means that over 50,000 people encroaching the site with have to be forcibly relocated.

I have no idea where this village is as I have driven along the fort wall and I’ve never seen it but when people live so close to historic monuments they inevitably cause damage to the architecture.  A debate is springing up as to whether human lives are less important as there is nowhere to relocate the villagers.

Delhi is quite a confusing conundrum sometimes.  Makeshift shanti town and temporary accommodation spring up anywhere there is construction and although there is technically nowhere for the villagers to go, they weren’t meant to be living at the fort and they probably just have to select another empty space.  There have been calls for the Indian government to provide them with accommodation but what is a government in a developing country to do?  One cannot leapfrog stages of progress and conjure up housing and an infrastructure even if the case has been ongoing for years.  Tens of thousands of people pour into Delhi every single day looking for work and accommodation.  If illegal dwellers are granted accommodation as an incentive to move away form historic buildings surely this would encourage future squatters not discourage them.


One Comment to “Home v History”

  1. Quite a tricky question, and one that needs to be solved very carefully indeed. As a lover of heritage I know I want this beautiful fort preserved, but then again, how do I deal with the eviction of thousands of poor folks?

    I had done a piece on this fort some time back, with some lovely images by my friend Shalabh. Do check it out, and you’ll agree that conservation of this historic monument is a must! http://adatewithdelhi.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/at-the-end-of-the-tunnel-tughlaqabad-fort-delhi/

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